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How to Keep Your Mother-in-Law From Despising You, In Two Easy Steps

Posted on November 20th, 2007 by Amber in Wedding Etiquette, Wedding Planning No Comments

Step One: Flattery will get you everywhere. Practice exclaiming, “You look beautiful!” in your bathroom mirror. Check your smile. Is it sincere and gracious? Good. Now, make sure the inflection of your voice conveys the proper punctuation. Too much exclamation point and you risk being thought obnoxious (or drunk), too little and you might sound patronizing. Don’t try to fake the sincerity (it’s difficult, not to mention shaky moral ground), just practice selective vision. Even if she has a large mole growing on the side of her face, one that provides a base camp for several luxurious hairs, she can still look nice in a pantsuit. Or macramé vest.

Step Two: Ask questions. People like talking about themselves even more than they like the proverbial smoke up the rear. If you’re subjected to a forty-minute treatise on the state of her bunions, complete with pie chart, so be it. If it’s a dissertation on her many accomplishments as the first female heart surgeon in Michigan – while you’re still working at a bookstore (and not even the good one with the cappuccinos) – accept your lot. Smile, nod, and listen, even if you’re dying a bit inside.

There is always some common ground. Somewhere. Find it and cling. And if you happen to love your mother-in-law, revel in it – especially if you don’t have to ponder the gentle waving of her chin hair.

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